Audiosurf (Review)

“An entertaining rhythm game that makes you appreciate your music library in a whole new way.”

Audiosurf is an interesting game to review, mostly because essentially determine what your gameplay experience will be like. I’ve played Audiosurf for a few years now, and I think that it’s about time that I review it.

Audiosurf was released in near the start of 2008 on the Steam platform and was a colossal hit, inspiring many rip-offs over the following two years. Audiosurf was such an appealing game for indie developers to mimic because it was the first popular mainstream game that introduced gameplay which changed based upon the beat and tempo of the user-selected music tracks.

In Audiosurf, players control a small space ship that is confined to a course littered with coloured tiles. The goal is usually to pick up and match coloured tiles much like in puzzle games such as Puzzle Fighter. Matching coloured tiles would eliminate all adjacent tiles of the same colour that the player has queued up.

The arrangement of the coloured tiles, as well as the speed at which the player’s ship travels, is determined entirely by the music that the player selects. Audiosurf was among the first games that allowed our own personal MP3 libraries to affect gameplay, and I maintain that it is still the best game at incorporating this sort of feature. If you select a gentle or slow song, then the gameplay experience will reflect that as the player’s ship traverses rather slowly, making it easier for them to collect the appropriate tiles and avoid obstacles. However, if the player chooses a fast song (generally anything classified as “metal” works), they will find their ship to be speeding along rather quickly, and obstacles will come fast and often.

The objective is to amass the highest score possible with whatever song the player has chosen. There are many different ranges that the player’s score can fall under due to the number of game modes present in Audiosurf. In one mode called “ninja”, players do not collect tiles and must instead avoid them entirely. Picking up one of grey tile will immediately hurt the player’s score. Clear runs are essentially the goal of the ninja game mode. Other modes let you control two ships, shuffle the order of your tiles, and more. There are quite a few different ways to play Audiosurf thanks to the impressive number of game modes and difficulties, so there’s something for everyone.

It is hard to comment on the sound in Audiosurf since the majority of what you hear in the game will be music tracks that you manually select from your own MP3s. The game does have it’s own subdued techno-ish music tracks on the menus however, but they’re not very inspired and are actually a little bit on the dull and boring side. Sound effects aren’t much more impressive, but they can be easily modded and replaced with whatever you desire. Overall, the game’s own default sounds leave a lot to be desired, but it’s fairly easy to forgive Audiosurf for this since the game revolves around your own tunes.

The graphics in Audiosurf are pretty neat for a budget game. The graphics themselves aren’t very special at all, but the way in which the game presents them certainly is. As you speed along your Tron-like circuit in your little space ship collecting coloured tiles, you will see pretty nice explosions of colours in the background, as well as effects that look like they came right out of a Windows Media Player visualization. The game is quite pretty with all the colours on the screen at once. It’s sort of trippy, and I dare anyone who feels glum to play this game and say that they don’t feel any better afterwards. Audiosurf’s visual displays are quite nice to look at, and I would certainly classify them as extreme eye-candy.

In terms of replayability, there’s quite a substantial amount. Every single song plays in it’s own unique way, and given how many songs exist and are available to anyone with an internet connection, it’s not hard to see how the different circuit layouts are essentially infinite. Scores from the stages are also recorded and uploaded to Audiosurf’s servers, so there is a bit of a competitive side to the game. Have a favourite song that you play in Audiosurf? Well, you may find yourself feeling a little devoted to at least getting a top ten score for the song. Mainstream artists and bands have songs that have been played by thousands of people in Audiosurf, so breaking the top ten on some songs is actually quite an achievement.

Audiosurf is, overall, a very interesting experience. It’s a bit of a rhythm/puzzle game, though you could almost classify it as an action or platformer game considering how some of the game modes play. It’s a fun game that almost anybody could enjoy with the right music, and there’s plenty of replayability if you have a decent sized library of songs on your computer. The game is fairly cheap on Steam, roughly only $10 or so. For about 20% of the price of a commercial game, you really cannot go wrong here.

Final Score